A pony has been put to sleep after suffering serious head and neck injuries following a trailer accident on the M67 near Manchester.

Sparky, a 13.2hh grey gelding, was travelling back home from a show with his stable companion Spirit, a 14hh bay gelding, when their trailer overturned on Sunday afternoon at about 3.40pm.

Zoe Sherlock, a final-year degree student at Bishop Burton College in East Yorkshire, wijtnessed the accident and immediately pulled over to help.

“I was following behind when I saw the trailer wobble and fall over. It travelled down the motorway on its side for about 500 yards before it came to a stop.

“As soon as I saw this happen, I pulled up onto the hard shoulder and ran to see if the ponies were OK.

“The woman driving and two teenage girls got out of the car and were unhurt but really shaken up.”

Police were forced to shut lane one of the westbound M67 between junction 4 and 3 as rescue services battled to try and free the trapped ponies.

Fire-fighters managed to free Spirit, who was taken into a field by the side of the motorway. He was suffering from minor cuts but otherwise appeared to be fine. However, Sparky remained trapped in the trailer for over an hour despite, the best efforts of the emergency crews.

“Initially, both the ponieswere quite distressed, but then they appeared to go into shock and went very quiet,” explains Zoe.

“When they finally managed to manoeuvre Sparky out the trailer, it was obvious he was having difficulty standing. The vet believed he had suffered serious head and neck injuries and that there was nothing more he could do, so he was put to sleep.”

“Both the girls were inconsolable and it was a horrific thing to happen. People need to be aware that accidents do take place, so that they can take every precaution in minimising the chance of it happening.”

A spokeperson for Greater Manchester police said: “This incident has been treated as an accident and there will be no further investigation into it.”